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Fishing & aquaculture: 3 tips for choosing the right satellite provider

March 4, 2021

The global aquaculture industry is expected to reach $245 billion by 2027, and the IoT ecosystem is key to this growth. Connected devices monitor farm and fishing site conditions, as well as provide the data inputs for predictive models that enable more informed decision making on everything from optimal water temperature to preventing sea lice infestations. These connected devices, however, often operate in remote areas where connectivity is a challenge.

Nearly 99% of the world’s annual commercial ocean catch comes from within 200 nautical miles of the coastline, areas that land-based networks like cellular or GSM don’t reach. Even on-shore fisheries and aquaculture farms are often located in remote areas that lack reliable communications infrastructure. To ensure that IoT devices in these types of environments are able to reliably transmit data, satellite networks are often the answer.

When it comes to transmitting critical data about aquaculture or fishing operations, choosing the right satellite provider is key. Here are 3 aspects to consider when making that decision:

1. Can you pay less?

“Satellite” is often synonymous with “expensive,” but a new crop of companies is changing that. By leveraging innovative technologies, some satellite startups are able to offer data transfer at 20x lower cost than legacy providers.

While some industries require high-priced, ultra-fast satellite communication networks, most aquaculture and fishing IoT devices send small amounts of scheduled data, such as barometric pressure readings or salinity levels. These types of users can and should take advantage of the new, low-cost satellite solutions.

Most aquaculture and fishing IoT devices can and should take advantage of new, low-cost satellite solutions.

2. Does “everywhere” include where you need it?

Since land-based networks like cellular or GSM typically don’t reach the remote environments where aquaculture and fishing take place, most IoT devices rely on satellite networks to keep them online.

Map of global fishing activity in 2016
Source: Global Fishing Watch | BBC

When choosing your satellite provider, however, don’t make the mistake of assuming that all space-based networks have fully global coverage, or that your devices will be able to transmit data at any time. Differing orbits and varying numbers of satellites mean that some satellite networks have dead zones or dead times.

Ask a potential provider exactly what kind of coverage you can expect. You don’t want to discover limitations too late. A satellite network with 100% global continuous coverage is your best bet to make sure your devices can transmit anytime, no matter where they’re deployed.

Check if a potential satellite provider has 100% global continuous coverage to ensure your devices can transmit anytime, anywhere.

3. Is two-way better than one?

Once devices are deployed in the field, the last thing you want to do is keep visiting them to make manual adjustments. On-site visits are expensive, time-consuming, and sometimes dangerous. Sometimes, however, tweaks need to be made or a malfunction requires quick action to remedy.

In these cases, two-way satellite communications – the ability to have devices both send data and receive commands or messages back – can be a game-changer. With two-way data transfer, it’s possible to remotely tweak water pump flows for optimal performance, or shut them off entirely if a malfunction occurs. If having more control over what your devices do – not just the information they send – is important, you’ll want to look at two-way satellite networks.

Two-way satellite networks can be a game-changer if you want control over what your devices do, not just the data they send.

Finding the right fit

In marine environments where ground-based communication methods are not an option, companies turn to satellite networks for connectivity. Since those networks are responsible for ensuring that critical IoT data is reliably transmitted, choosing the right provider is key.

Fortunately, a new crop of startups is providing more options than ever and shaking up the status quo. From pricing to coverage to two-way networks, take a close look at your options and ask the important questions up front, so you can rest assured you’ve found the best fit for your unique needs.